Muddy puddles surrounded the dugouts at Mashashimuet Park on Monday but the sun shined down for the first time in days as the Pierson baseball and softball teams played simultaneous games in Sag Harbor.
The softball team jumped out to an early 2-1 lead over visiting Mattituck but let the lead slip away with a series of errors in the second inning. Pierson has no seniors in its lineup but has shown glimpses of a bright future ahead. The 7-3 loss to Mattituck on Monday, which followed a convincing 19-5 win over Southold/Greenport on May 3, was the latest result that was both disappointing and encouraging at the same time for head coach Woody Kneeland, whose team dropped to 4-9 on the season.
The Lady Whalers closed out the regular season at Center Moriches on Wednesday after press time. There are no other Class C schools on Long Island, so even if Pierson were to pursue a playoff exemption, they would not play again until a state regional final on June 8.
“We’re close but we just have to get over that hump,” said Kneeland, whose team committed five errors behind starter Lauren Gurney on Monday. “The playoffs are really up in the air, but they fought during that game yesterday. I’m proud of them for competing the entire way.”
Going into the season, Kneeland wanted to win six games in order to feel good about going into the postseason. Even a win over Center Moriches would have given the team only five, so ultimately he will have to hear from Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body of athletics, and Pierson athletic director Eric Bramoff whether or not they see the playoffs as a possibility.
“The ultimate decision is going to be the section’s,” Kneeland said. “Then it comes down to what the AD has seen and my evaluation of the team and where I think their heads are at. Mental stamina is part of the issue.”
“If we play well against Center Moriches, I’ll be encouraged. The way we played at times against Mattituck was encouraging,” he added. “I have to let it play out.”
Baseball Team Crushes Smithtown Christian
The Pierson/Bridgehampton baseball team finds itself in a similar situation, competing against Class B schools all season with the potential for postseason play still very much in consideration. The Whalers knocked off Smithtown Christian, 12-2, on Monday after being swept by Port Jefferson in the previous series. The Whalers were 3-10 as of Tuesday morning with two more games remaining against Smithtown Christian and a three-game series with Babylon set to close out the regular season.
That means a .500 record, which is usually required to earn an automatic berth in the playoffs, is out of reach. Southold (5-8) is the only other Class C team in Suffolk County, so Section XI could arrange a playoff series to determine a Class C champion.
The Whalers are scheduled to host Smithtown Christian on Thursday, May 9, at 4:30 p.m. with the next series starting at Babylon on May 14, also at 4:30 p.m.